Steamboat Springs resident Chris Gallion looks at old photos Wednesday during an auction of all the contents inside The Tugboat Grill & Pub.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs resident Chris Gallion looks at old photos Wednesday during an auction of all the contents inside The Tugboat Grill & Pub.

Tugboat Grill & Pub auction spreads ski town memories far, wide

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— The auction at The Tugboat Grill & Pub on Wednesday at times felt like a reunion, a funeral or walking through a friend’s home while they were away.

Memories

Read Tugboat memories here or share your own at SteamboatToday.com/tugboat or by emailing share@SteamboatToday.com.

More than 200 people showed up to bid on the items in the iconic ski pub, which was seized by the Colorado Department of Revenue for nonpayment of taxes.

Plenty more people showed up to spectate and reminisce about the pub and Larry Lamb and Hank Edwards’ tenure as its owners.

Despite the feelings those in attendance had for the Tugboat, this was an auction. And according to auctioneer Buster Cattles, there are no friends at an auction.

That might not have been quite true of the crowd at the Tugboat, but not even Lamb was immune from competing bids for some of the memorabilia that lined the walls of the pub.

Many of the photos with signatures and messages from athletes, entertainers, celebrities and other Steamboat characters were addressed to Lamb and Edwards.

Some bidders were of a single mind in getting the one, specific memento that best conjured images of happier times at the Tugboat. Others were there to retrieve personal memories that had been housed there. Some were just fishing for a piece of the pub to call their own.

Richie Imperato was trying to buy back some animal mounts that he shot as a teenager but faced competition from another man who was trying to take home all the mounts in the place.

Imperato was especially keen to buy back a wildebeest head he said he shot in Tanzania when he was 19 years old.

The wildebeest is the 13th largest on record, he said. “Winston Churchill is on the list behind me, and he can’t catch up.”

Imperato expressed his objection to the competing bidder to no avail, and the price of the head mount rose to $440. Cattles, the auctioneer, was aware of Imperato’s frustration with the situation and said he’d split the cost of the mount with Imperato. But, Cattles said, Imperato was on his own for the rest of the mounts that were shot by him.

When Kier Delaney saw that the photo of Michael Jordan skiing was addressed to Two Dogs, he had to have it. It cost him $200, but it was worth it for Delaney to have the photo addressed to the man who taught him how to ski and was best friends with his brother, Chris, who passed away in 2000.

David Zedeck met his wife, Gina, at the bar at the Tugboat. He knew what the best memento of that moment would be: the back door of the Tugboat.

In a surprise move, Zedeck asked for the door to be auctioned and was able to get it for $2,400. “The Tugboat Saloon” with its familiar type is carved into the door that’s marked as being shaped by Steamboat’s Don Woodsmith.

As part of the deal, Zedeck had to find a replacement door by the following morning but was back before the auction ended with a carpenter and removed his prize in the rain.

Leslie Vesper was able to retrieve a photo of her daughter posing with a prize from a hunt that hung above the dining room when Cattles again stepped in to help someone hold on to a special moment.

Molly Goldberg worked at the Tugboat for 1 1/2 years when Lamb and Edwards owned it and a winter for the subsequent owner, Jim Beatty.

The Tugboat was her first job in Steamboat, and she was hired three days after moving to town.

“I remember being really excited because it was the Tugboat,” Goldberg said.

She said she didn’t really care about the beer signs she bought but just wanted something to remember the place.

Some items might start popping up in other Steamboat watering holes. A color photo of Larry Kaminski in his Broncos uniform and center’s stance could end up on the walls of Carl’s Tavern. A large, vintage “Drink Budweiser” sign that sat behind the Tugboat’s stage should find a new home on the mountain.

While the physical tokens of Tugboat memories no longer will live in one place, their spread across Steamboat and beyond will give the bar’s old-timers and regulars stories to tell whenever they spot a relic.

The auction, which lasted more than five hours, ended up totaling $31,720, far beyond the $10,846 owed to the state and enough to cover the $13,516 owed to the city of Steamboat Springs. It also trumped the starting bulk bid of $15,000 offered by Jerry Burden on behalf of a group of investors. The bulk bid for the entire business would only have taken effect if the total of the piecemeal bids was less than $15,000.

As the auction wound down, screwdrivers were passed around for winners to remove their prizes, and the walls began to look uncharacteristically bare. Lamb had a growing stack of picture frames on a stool near the bar. Near the back door that now had a plain replacement, he unscrewed a row of photos above the window and along with it a photo of he and Edwards from 1977 in front of the Tugboat when they got into business together.

Read Tugboat memories here or share your own at SteamboatToday.com/tugboat or by emailing share@SteamboatToday.com.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 year, 2 months ago

A lesson in this is to be careful when putting your memorabilia in a bar. You should state your ownership on the backside and take pictures so if anything happens then you can recover your property.

And really disappointing that anyone would bid against what is pretty obviously the rightful owner of certain items. I've gone to many auctions and all the time there is friendly behavior at auctions. As a bidder, it is better when people are being friendly and letting others get what they really want.

Which is why auctioneers often have friends come as bidders to drive up prices and they will resell what their friends buy at other auctions without charging them the normal auction fees. When you've gone to enough auctions then you start seeing how they are scamming the bidders. You learn whom is there to drive up the bids. It helps to start off like an indecisive bidder that takes longer and longer as you approach you max bid, and then let them try to drive up the bids against you as you bid quick like you want it and your max is well off and then stop bidding. And then you'll see how much the auctioneer is in bed with that bidder as the auctioneer works the crowd very hard for another bid. Since his friend was supposed to bid up, but not win the item. And at a latter auction that item is there on consignment and allowed to sell at a lower price.

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